Starting and Surviving Multiple Sunday Schools

While on staff at my first church as Minister of Education, the church began experiencing rapid growth.  The church received several awards for year-over-year growth in the Sunday School from our state convention (and was actually recognized by NAMB, too), and one key to keeping the growth on track was to begin a second Sunday School hour before the first one reached capacity.  It was a big challenge to lead the church to adopt a dual-Sunday School format, but it really payed off in terms of the new people we were able to reach.  Providing new options and classes helped us signal to the community that we were serious about providing for their needs through Sunday morning Bible study.  An entire blog post could be written on the process we used to transition the church to the dual format (maybe a future blog post!), but today I want to share 25 things you should consider if you are thinking about beginning a second Sunday School hour at your church.

  1. Multiple Sunday Schools do not double your space availability…remember that preschoolers are there for two hours
  2. Multiple Sunday Schools do create breaks in fellowship…gear up to increase fellowship activities
  3. Do not move into multiple Sunday Schools too quickly – give the people time to adjust to the new format, time to ask questions, and time to express concerns
  4. A greeter center and a greeting system are “musts” for multiple Sunday Schools – things can get confusing really quick, so you’ll want trained volunteers who know the class options backwards and forwards
  5. Use major recreation or fellowship space for multiple Sunday Schools (gym or fellowship hall).  Consider purchasing movable walls that can be used to create temporary classrooms in large open spaces like gyms
  6. Plan to remodel and update some education space (restrooms, walkways, waiting area, classrooms, etc)
  7. Janitorial services for waste cans and rest rooms will be necessary.  Trash receptacles must handle double or triple the use
  8. “Ownership” of wall space, storage space, resources, coffee pots, etc. must be clearly understood among classes…head off conflicts early by helping teachers to “play nice together”
  9. Your staff must be able to delegate for multiple Sunday Schools…can they?
  10. How will you assign prospects who have never attended Sunday School before? Which class do you assign them to if you have options in both Sunday School hours?
  11. Will you have classes for all ages in each of the two Sunday School hours, or will each “specialize” in reaching certain age groups?
  12. Consider how your schedule of adult classes impacts the worship service(s)
  13. Some parents will attend worship only and put their children in Sunday School and “do church in an hour” – it’s unavoidable…but don’t stop promoting involvement in small groups
  14. There will certainly be an imbalance between the two Sunday School hours…one will have the majority of the people…know this going in and don’t give up on the smaller of the two hours
  15. Can your parking handle an increasing number of cars as your second Sunday School grows?
  16. Watch out for the impact on choir members who are also teachers/leaders in the Sunday School…you’ll want to visit with your worship pastor about the impact on the church’s worship ministry
  17. Don’t mix age groups in the same room unless they can use the same size furniture
  18. How will your worker training change as a result of multiple Sunday Schools that will have multiple Directors?
  19. Do you have enough volunteers to staff two Sunday Schools?  Are the people supportive?
  20. Two record keeping systems will be needed.  Each Sunday School tracks its own attendance
  21. The budgets for the two Sunday Schools should be coordinated to maximize usage and purchasing of equipment, supplies, and storage
  22. You will want a Director and an Assistant Director for each of the two Sunday Schools
  23. Prospect information should be collected at a central location and distributed to the appropriate Sunday School class
  24. Don’t go into multiple Sunday Schools unless absolutely necessary.
  25. Are you allowing enough time between the two Sunday Schools for transition, fellowship, and occasional late dismissals?

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